A minister who quit over delay of problem gambling plan gets a job with firm that promotes gambling

Tracey Crouch MP in London, 2015
Stefan Schmid

Former sports minister Tracey Crouch has taken a £51,000-a-year job in sports communications, just months after quitting the cabinet. The firm boasts gambling companies amongst its client list. Crouch quit the government over delays to betting regulations.

The Conservative MP joined PR company The Playbook as a senior adviser on 1 February. According to the MP’s register of interests, her £212-an-hour role at the firm will be to provide “advice on the benefits of sport”.

Crouch resignation

The Conservative MP resigned as under secretary for sport and civil society in November 2018. Crouch cited the delay to restrictions on fixed odds betting terminals, machines labelled the “crack cocaine” of gambling.

In her resignation letter, Crouch claimed those with “registered interests” may have had a hand in the decision. There was cross-party praise for the MP’s stance. The Archbishop of Canterbury also commended the former minister.

The Playbook

Three months after leaving government, the MP signed a contract with communications firm The Playbook. The PR firm works with sporting clients such as UFC, London Sport, Henley Royal Regatta, NFL and the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The PR firm also lists major gambling company 888 Holdings as a clients.

On its website, The Playbook says a 2018 World Cup campaign with 888sport had a reach of 2.4bn, and was designed to help the brand “re-invent a new personality”. Playbook states that this allowed 888 to “inject fan growth across core and new audiences”.

The Gambling Commission hit 888 with a record fine of £7.8m in 2017 for failing to protect “problem gamblers”. The watchdog said it had “serious concerns about 888’s safeguarding of customers at risk of gambling harm”.

Ministerial rules

MPs must speak to the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACoBA) if taking a role within two years of leaving a senior position within government.

ACoBA states the rules exist in order to avoid:

  • suspicion that the appointment of a former government official “might be a reward for past favours”
  • an employer gaining an “improper advantage” in hiring a former official who has information about competitors or soon-to-be-announced government policy
  • improper exploitation of “privileged access to contacts in government” by a former minister or official

The former sports minister did consult ACoBA on the appointment. The advice letter sent to the MP has not yet been published.

The Canary has contacted Tracey Crouch’s office for comment.

Featured image via Foreign and Commonwealth Office/Flickr

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